Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A word on rejection

As we all know, rejection is a part of life. A LARGE part of life. Whether hunting for a new job, pitching a story or an agent, we're all bound to face it eventually.

Personally, I sometimes wonder if the ever-present possibility of the short, impersonal rejection letter is what makes a writer, well, a writer. Let me explain.

Back when I was in school, before any of the creative writing students had put ourselves and work out there for the world to see, we were told that we would need to develop a thick skin. We decided, as a social experiment to poke a little harmless fun at the process. Instead of ripping up our rejection letters and lighting them on fire, we preserved them, kept them in binders. Heck, some of us even framed them and stuck them on the fridge. We wore them like war badges.

Once, I decided to pitch a story to Glamour magazine. I knew it was a long shot, I hadn't really seen anything like what I was pitching in the magazine before. But I felt like I should go for it. If nothing else, at least I could say I'd once pitched to them. When I received my rejection letter post card, I put it on Facebook along with a sarcastic comment on the nice personal touch (they had addressed it to "writer"). To my amusement, none of my fb friends picked up on the joke. Instead, they all congratulated me! I guess getting anything from Glamour magazine is better than nothing at all. (Note this is no disrespect to the magazine. I'm a monthly subscriber and read them almost religiously.)

But when it comes down to it, what is a writer without rejection? How would we ever improve without it, how would we ever grow? In a world full of "yes" would you ever push yourself to your breaking point? Could you ever achieve the masterpiece lying inside of you? Would you even try? If every pile of crap that landed on a publisher's desk landed a huge book deal, what would be the point?

So I think as writers we need to stop and savor the rejection that comes our way. In the end, it will make our successes just that much sweeter.